School's In Session
On April 9th
, USC Events
hosted the 3rd
installment of their annual educational series on bass music; Bass Academy. The focus of this year was teamwork with 6 back to backs sets followed by a graduation ceremony presided over by Adventure Club
. Just like any great adventure though, it was less about the end and more about how we got there with each b2b set showcasing a different niche of the bass music genre.
b2b Stylust Beats
b2b Boombox Cartel
b2b Must Die!
; this lineup had something for everyone. Not only was the level of talent constantly top notch, each back to back set had never happened before anywhere. Bass Academy really was a dream come true for any bass head in the PNW, and unlike Tacoma Dome events of the past
, it truly hit the mark and demonstrated that USC Events has finally settled into the groove for hosting events in Tacoma.
Before I go into how the event was run and how good of a job USC Events did running Bass Academy, let’s get into the important part: the music
. Pairing up two artists for the first time and giving them the reigns to a massive PK Sound System is a recipe for success, especially when the talent being paired up is of such a high caliber. There were great moments from each set, and while some of the sets didn’t blow me away as much as others, the crown jewels of the night were the final two sets from Lookas b2b ETC!ETC! and from Skism b2b Must Die! These sets were perfect, for completely different reasons.
The Back To Backs
Lookas and ETC brought some of the filthiest trap and moombahton to this year's Bass Academy. Each track was high energy and really gave an insight into the raw talent of these two producers. As solo acts, they are both incredible, but together they reached a whole new level of insanity. Their song selection was on point and the progression ignited the crowd to a dangerous level. And while their set might have not been the most technical or nostalgia based, it was fire from start to finish. Lookas and ETC!ETC! have both been making huge waves in the bass music scene, and getting the chance to see them come together like that was truly special.
And to contrast, Skism b2b Must Die! was dark, gritty, heavy, and just plain filthy. Really though, what would you expect from such a pairing? Right off the bat it was plain to see that this set was going to be very different. Pairing Must Die’s aggressive modern day dubstep with Skism’s classic style blossomed into a hurricane of bass. Each drop was heavier than the last, and as a whole the set really touched on all eras of dubstep. We even were treated to some brand new Must Die, as depicted in the epic moment seen below. Overall, this was one of the best sets of the night, if not the best
It just wouldn’t be proper for me to talk about the amazing back to backs and not
mention Adventure Club's graduation ceremony. I will preface this by saying I am not the biggest fan of Adventure Club as DJs. In the past, I found they tend to play mostly mainstream music during their sets, but this time around it was something different. Playing into the heavy vibes that had been set throughout the night, Adventure Club really showed off their darker side. While they did still have all of the feel good music you would expect to find at an Adventure Club show, that mostly came towards the end. The beginning of their set was simply brutal; much more than I would have expected going in. Picking up on the heaviness that Skism and Must Die! had just finished thrown down, Adventure Club came out of the gates swinging with track after track filled to the brim with bass-y goodness. Even I can say that I was truly impressed by their set and really enjoyed it. I can only imagine how much the die hard AC fans enjoyed graduation.
Now let's move onto the management side of the event. With Lucky and now Bass Academy solidly under their belts, USC Events has proven that even though the move to Tacoma for a some of their flagship events might not be the most popular decision, they haven't really suffered a loss in quality. The new multi-stage set up of Lucky and the single stage of Bass Academy have really solidified that USC can throw successful events at an inferior venue. Bass Academy had no hiccups or snags outside of a few minor annoyances, which is a pretty big deal considering the nightmare that was Freaknight
. Lines were smooth, security was respectful (although more thorough than a TSA screening), the sound system was on point, Conscious Crew did the amazing job they always do, and the vibes were unreal. Overall, one of the best USC shows I have been to in a long time and this really gives hope for the success of future events at the Tacoma Dome and WaMu alike.
Like any event, Bass Academy wasn’t without a few faults, primarily being the bar situation. Tacoma Dome simply has yet to figure out how to manage their bar set ups. I've seen a few different iterations of it by now, and this was easily the worst. I don’t know who made the decision to tuck the bar away in the back behind the bleachers, with absolutely zero stage visibility, but whoever it was should be fired. I've never before been at an event where you cannot see the stage from at least a large section of the bar area. Even when the line logistics for the bars at dome were nightmares (looking at you We Are All We Need tour), at least once you got your two drinks (even if hours later) you could enjoy sipping it while gazing at the production of the main stage. And while I've heard complaints about the new ticket system that was implemented for Lucky and Bass Academy, it's honestly not bad. A slight inconvenience, but that isn’t anything close to hiding the bar in the back when there was a full section of bleachers where the bar usually is that were not rolled up and also not available to sit on. Such a simple fix for such a stupid layout. The bars were perfect at Lucky, but apparently in the month between events, Tacoma Dome hired a new floor layout manager who hates drinking and thinks it should be hidden out of site and out of mind.
Overall I just have to reiterate how much I loved this event, a sentiment heard consistently from everyone I have talked to about Bass Academy. The only complaint that seems to be shared by most is just that fact that it is at the Tacoma Dome. But it seems like this is just a change we will have to get used to, and as long as the quality of events does not dip (or fall off a cliff like it did for Freaknight), than I am more than okay with events being held there. And if Bass Academy and Lucky are any indication, things will be all right and there is no need to panic.
Bass Academy surpassed all of my expectations and did the bass heads of the North West justice. I look forward to seeing what USC Events brings in the future, and I cannot wait to see what they are planning for next year’s lesson in bass.